Sunday, January 31, 2010

You don't know my pain, Bill Simmons

AKA Fernetiquette Fisks The Sports Guy.

If you are a fan of sportswriting and under 40 years old, you probably are familiar on some level with ESPN's Bill Simmons. He is quite literally one of the fathers of modern sports bloggery. Pretty much everyone steals from him on some level, and with good reason. He's sharp, funny and immensely knowlegeable, even if he did lose his fastball about 5 years ago. (See? There I went and did it myself.) 
I like your outfit there, guy.

Recently, the Minnesota Vikings lost one of the most historically tragic games in NFL History. Not coincidentally, the Vikings are one of the most historically tragic teams in sport. This prompted Simmons to ruminate on the general topic of which teams in the four major American sports can be considered truly tortured, as opposed to teams that may kind of stink but we shouldn't really feel all that bad about in grand scheme of things.

As is typical of Simmons, he invented a bunch of arbitrary but systematic criteria to sift the purely pitiful from the merely moribund, then he ranked them in order of 1-15. These criteria were based on a column he wrote several years ago where he described the different "Levels of Losing" where level 15 is a sort of rough day and Level 1 is The Worst Moment In Your Sports Life, Ever. Now, I have no problem with the ranking concept. These types of columns are obviously subjective and meant to inspire debate, so it's a little pointless getting too worked up about where you end up on a list of teams you'd really rather not end up on at all.

But then he went and said this about my beloved Giants:

6. San Francisco Giants

Last Title: Never (unless you count 1954, when the team was in New York).

Last Truly Devastating Defeat: Game 6, 2002 World Series (sadly, no YouTube clip since MLB knocks any footage off YouTube in its never-ending quest to find ways to suck). Arguably a Level 1 loss. No moniker, though.

Rock Bottom: Game 6 again, though I forgot to mention the thundersticks.

Additional Thoughts: You'd think a 66-year title drought, the Bonds/BALCO fallout, a borderline Level 1 loss in 2002 and having its first World Series home game in 27 years postponed by a devastating earthquake during batting practice of the first-ever Bay Area World Series would get the message out that, "Hey, we need to start including these guys in all future Tortured Sports Cities discussions." Can you be underrated/tortured? Apparently so.

OH NO YOU DI'NT! According to Simmons, the worst moment in human history is "arguably" a "borderline" Level 1 loss, and the Giants are "underrated" as being a tortured team. I know I said earlier that it was a little pointless getting worked up about this, but what the fuck is he fucking talking about?!?!?
Charlie Brown was a Giants fan. Seriously.

Naturally, I could not let this aggression stand, man. You could say that I got worked up about it. You could say that. My (emailed) response to Mr. Simmons is below the jump.

WARNING: It is not for the faint of heart.

Borderline Level 1? BORDERLINE!?!

Look, Simmons. I must take issue with your characterization of the level of losing as "borderline" Level 1. I assume this is because, as you noted, the game lacks a snappy nickname.

First things first: Amongst Giants fans at least there are plenty of nicknames to go around. Usually we just refer to it as "Game 6", though I understand that one's been taken in the national collective consciousness. Still, if you wanted to differentiate, you could go with (Blanking) Spezio. Or you could go with The Game Ball Game (read the Russ Ortiz Wikipedia page for an explanation if you don't get it.) But really, the best one to use and the one that would absolutely cause Giants fans to double over in pain is The Dusty Baker Game.
The beginning of the end. Shoot me.

Keep in mind, Dusty lost us hundreds of games over the years because he's a terrible manager, but EVERYONE who knows Orange and Black would know what you're talking about and wail in agony. The Dusty Baker Game. Period. We were up 5-0. Ortiz was cruising. Dusty took him out. Then he mismanaged the bullpen down the stretch and that was that. I don't need to go blow-by-blow. If you were a Giants fan, you remember the hour or so it took for things to disintegrate into madness like the back of your hand.
The end of the end. Shoot me again.

Secondly, I understand you're not a National League fan and living in LA you may have been infected by the evil scourge of Dodgerdom but I don't think that you can make a credible argument that ANY NL team has been more tortured over the course of the last 35 years, Cubs included.

The Giants have been more consistently competitive than the Cubs and have had our hearts broken in much more consistent and spectacular fashion over that time period. It just doesn't get the pub for whatever reason (not going to say it but yeah.) You touched on the 89 World Series, which is painful but even without the Earthquake we weren't going to beat the A's. No, much more painful was 1993 when the Giants were legitimately the best team in baseball and missed the playoffs because Salomon Torres laid an egg and MLB hadn't yet instituted the Wild Card. That team would have destroyed the Phillies and Jays but weren't given the chance. There were other terrors. In '98 Neifi Perez hit a HR off Robb Nen to keep us out of the playoffs. That is not a typo. NEIFI PEREZ!! Do you know what the odds against that are?
THIS GUY. Unbelievable.

In 2000 Snow's miracle HR off Benitez was followed by Felix Rodriguez's meltdown the following inning. We thank Dusty for that one too. In '03 we AGAIN had the best team in baseball but lost to the Marlins in the NLCS in part because Jose Cruz, Jr. dropped a routine fly ball. True Fact: Cruz won the Gold Glove in RF that year. Do you know what the odds against THAT are?
He was a Dodger at heart

Keep in mind, this was less than a year after The Dusty Baker Game. We didn't even get a year of mediocrity to heal, it was just another kick right to the collective groin. Hooray.

I could go on with specific examples (Steve Finley, AJ Pierzynski and Dave Dravecky to name a few) but it's too depressing. The point I'm trying to make is that it's fun to write about how the Cubs are cursed and tortured and blah blah blah, but very rarely to people recognize that the people of San Francisco have NEVER tasted a World Title and have scars to match with the best of them. Meanwhile, we've had to watch the A's win 4 titles we get no end of crap from Oakland fans who don't even go to games.
Don't even get me started.

But let's extend the point a bit: The last time a team from the Bay Area won a title? 1995. That's 15 years for an area with 6 teams across the 4 major sports. The Sharks are probably too young to be considered "tortured", but they are quickly amassing an impressive reputation for world-class chokery. The Warriors are the Warriors and comfortable with being pathetic. The Niners and Raiders have both flailed around toothlessly for most of the past decade. Hell, even Cal football is perpetually disappointing. Some of that stink gets transferred to the Giants. It has to.

To sum up: I demand you upgrade the Giants epic failures from "borderline" and "underrated" to "absolute" and "horrific". I will not rest until I receive a correction.


Giants Fans Everywhere.
(As represented by me.)
Once more with feeling!

P.S. I swear to effing God if you respond with something stupid like "Yeah well, you deserved it because Barry Bonds", I will fly down to LA and staple the 30,000 word columns you wrote about how broken up you were when you "found out" that Manny and Ortiz were both (BOTH!) using steroids to every lamppost in your neighborhood. Do not tempt me.

Filed Under: Posts about the Giants, Fuck you Dusty fuck you, Bill Simmons pretty much only watches Boston teams that is a fact, searing agony, I need a drink


  1. Thank god you ended with needing a drink, I was almost starting to wonder if this blog is still about booze. Nice save, that one.

  2. I would have put the top 4:
    Cubs Bills Giants Vikings. In whatever order. But the Browns and Indians are from the same place...and that place is CLEVELAND, so they win. Even more so if Lebron leaves.

    Also: how can you call any home run given up by Armando Benitez a "miracle"?

  3. So, you're saying that if the Giants were a Beverly Hills 90210 character, they'd be Steve? I'm not buying it.

  4. Tophes:

    "Also: how can you call any home run given up by Armando Benitez a "miracle"?"

    Point taken. I stand corrected.

  5. Bill:

    No. They'd be the kid that shot himself accidentally that one time by twirling his gun.

    Also, I hate you.